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Starwood Rebrands Asset to Westin

HOT H CHH

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Consistent with its brand conversion activity, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT - Analyst Report) recently opened a new property – The Westin Snowmass Resort – in Snowmass, Colorado. The property opened after an extensive refurbishment of The Silvertree Hotel & Conference Center.

Snowmass is located in the Roaring Fork river valley in Pitkin County. The area is a leading destination for summer vacationers, offering various activities such as white-water rafting, championship golf courses, hot air balloon rides and hiking. The Westin Snowmass Resort is located in close proximity to several local tourist attractions in Snowmass, including three other adjacent ski areas – Aspen, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk.

The Westin Snowmass Resort is under joint venture ownership between Starwood Capital Group and Wasserman Real Estate. Strategically positioned in the midst of Snowmass village, the hotel has been fully renovated to incorporate Westin signature facilities. The 254-room property is sought by travelers looking for rural attractions and winter skiing or summer recreation.

Colorado, the eighth-largest state in the U.S., has an emerging tourist industry. Starwood has around 15 hotels in Colorado, including five under its Westin brand. In August 2015, the company is expected to open another property – The Westin Denver International Airport – in Denver city of Colorado. Some of the major peers of Starwood, Choice Hotels International Inc. (CHH - Snapshot Report) and Hyatt Hotels Corporation (H - Snapshot Report) also have a notable presence in Colorado.

Starwood has set a new trend in hotel design with its Westin brand, which embodies modern design and peaceful ambience. The brand also offers signature retail services including the Heavenly Bed, SuperFoodsRX and WestinWorkout Studio among others.

Westin continues to be a star performer. Opportunities for conversions are still available across the North American market. Last month, Starwood opened The Westin New York Grand Central hotel in New York. The company has many Westin branded hotels slated to open in North America in the coming years.

These include The Westin Birmingham in Alabama, The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village in Florida, The Westin San Jose in California, The Westin Wilmington in Delaware and The Westin Cleveland Downtown in Ohio.

In the third quarter of 2012, RevPAR (Revenue per Available Room) growth at Westin was 3.4% in constant dollars, the third highest among Starwood hotel brands. Westin has a strong global presence, with properties in North America, Europe, Latin America, India, Southeast Asia and China. As of now, Westin’s portfolio comprises of more than 186 hotels in over 40 countries and territories.

We currently have long-term Neutral recommendation on Starwood. Also, it carries a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

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